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The Perfect Search Engine Is Not Enough. Jaime Teevan, MIT. with Christine Alvarado, Mark Ackerman and David Karger. Let Me Interview You!. Web:. What’s the last Web page you visited? How did you get there? Have you looked for anything on the Web?. Email:.

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The Perfect Search Engine Is Not Enough

Jaime Teevan, MIT

with Christine Alvarado, Mark Ackerman and David Karger


Let Me Interview You!

  • Web:

  • What’s the last Web page you visited? How did you get there?

  • Have you looked for anything on the Web?

  • Email:

  • What’s the last email you read? What did you do with it?

  • Have you gone back to an email you’ve read before?

  • Files:

  • What’s the last file you looked at? How did you get to it?

  • Have you looked for a file?


Overview:Understanding

Search

Directed

  • Introduction

  • Related work

  • Methodology

  • What we learned

    • How?

    • Why?

    • Who?

    • So what?

Prefer to search in steps

Because it’s easier

Step size varies by person


Haystack

Haystack:Personal Information Storage

Web pages

Email

Files

Calendar

Contacts


Directed Search in Haystack

What was that paper I read last week about Information Retrieval?

Haystack


Directed Search in Haystack

Ah yes!

Thank you.

Haystack


…Or Elsewhere

Ah yes!

Thank you.

“Perfect Search Engine”


Related Work

  • Directed search

    • Lab studies [Capra03, Maglio97]

    • Log analysis [Broder02, Spink01]

  • Observational studies [Malone83]

  • Information Seeking

    • Marchionini, O’Day and Jeffries, Bates, Belkin, …

    • Evolving information need


Modified Diary Study

  • Subjects: 15 CS graduate students

  • Ten interviews each (2/day x 5 days)

  • Two question types

    • Last email/file/Web page looked at

    • Last email/file/Web page looked for

  • Supplemented with direct observation and an hour-long semi-structured interview


Overview:Understanding

Directed

Search

  • Introduction

  • Related work

  • Methodology

  • What we learned

    • How?

    • Why?

    • Who?

    • So what?


Directed Search Today

  • Target: Connie Monroe’s office number

 Type into a search engine:

“Connie Monroe, office number”


What We Observed

Interviewer: Have you looked for anything on the Web today?

Jim: I had to look for the office number of the Harvard professor.

I: So how did you go about doing that?

J: I went to the homepage of the Math department at Harvard


What We Observed

I:So you went to the Math department, and then what did you do over there?

J:It had a place where you can find people and I went to that page and they had a dropdown list of visiting faculty, and so I went to that link and I looked for her name and there it was.


What We Observed

J:I knew that she had a very small Web page saying, “I’m here at Harvard. Here’s my contact information.”


Strategies Looking for Information

Teleporting

Orienteering


Why Do People Orienteer?

  • The tools don’t work

  • Easier than saying what you want

  • You know where you are

  • You know what you find


Easier Than Saying What You Want

  • Describing the target is hard

    • Can’t

    • Prefer not to

  • Habit

    • “Whichever way I remember first.”

  • Search for source

    • E.g., Your last email search


You Know Where You Are

  • Stay in known space

    • URL manipulation

    • Bookmarks

    • History

  • Backtracking

    • Following an information scent

    • Never end up at a dead end


You Know What You Find

  • Context gives understanding of answer

    “I was looking for a specific file. But even when I saw its name, I wouldn’t have known that that was the file I wanted until I saw all of the other names in the same directory…”

  • Understanding negative results

    “I basically clicked on every single button until I was convinced… I don’t think that it exists…”


Individual Strategies

  • Search strategies varied by individual

  • People who pile information take small steps

  • People who file information take big steps

  • Where was the last email you found?

  • Inbox?

  • Elsewhere?


File or Pile Email

Filer

Piler


How Individuals Search For Files

Filers

Big steps

Pilers

Small steps


Applying What We Learned

 Support orienteering

  • Advantages to orienteering

    • Easier than saying what you want

    • You know where you are

    • You know what you find

  • Individual differences in step size

  • Meta-info, source, flag sources with info

  • URL manipulation, paths apparent, all steps

  • Answer context, trusted sources, exhaustive

  • Allow for different step sizes


Structural Consistency Important

All must be the same to re-find the information!


Preserve What User Remembers

  • Supports orienteering for re-finding

  • Allows access to new information


More to Learn from the Data

  • Differences in finding v. re-finding

  • How organization relates to search

  • Importance of type (email, files and Web)

  • Looked at v. looked for

     Keep in mind population


Questions?

Teevan, J., Alvarado, C., Ackerman, M. S. and Karger, D. R. (2004). The Perfect Search Engine is Not Enough: A Study of Orienteering Behavior in Directed Search. To appear in Proceedings of CHI 2004.

(Linked from http://www.teevan.org)


Relating How and What

  • People only keyword search 39% of the time

  • What people look for related to how they look

Orienteer to specific information

  • Surprise:


Relating How and Corpus

  • Email and files: Almost never keyword searched

  • Easy to associate information with document

  • Web: Used keyword search much more often


Relating What and Corpus

  • Email searches were primarily for specific information

  • File searches were primarily for documents

  • Web searches were more evenly distributed


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